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Why so much hate against USB security dongles (like iLok and Steinberg key)

Lcas

New Member
Antipiracy are like certain types of lawyers and special interest groups. It hamstrings the paying customer and does nothing but incentivize people in the scene to find a way around it.

Total joke that employs people coming from a perspective where everyone is the enemy and solving the problem they are supposed to be paid for would be detrimental to their income.

They shove their noses into other people's business in the most obnoxious ways just to remind you that they exist and need your support.

They invent problems that aren't even real so they have a reason to exist.
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
Innocent question honestly.

I've always had to use one for VSL libraries, but never really thought about it.

I've read a few times people refusing to use certain companies or products because they use security usb dongles.

Just intrigued by reasoning why. Workflow? Extra cost? The Big Brother element? Lack of trust?

Sorry if I'm opening up a hot topic here!!

Thanks everyone!
Convenience. We’re moving towards a simpler authentication mindset in technology. A USB solution is very 1990s. Many of us push to carry less now: we don’t want car keys, credit cards, cards for bonus points at supermarkets (forget checkbooks), cash, you name it. Bugs me that I have to carry an insurance card and drivers license, having an online cloud-based daily routine is easier. I pay almost everything with my iPhone, practically every store takes it now. If they don’t, I drive by. Sounds pretty millennial... ha, I was alive when Kennedy got shot, lol.

I switched from Studio One to Cubase and now have a dependency on a usb stick on my tower DAW. If I want to quickly grab my laptop bag for a last minute recording session that someone called me for, I have to remember to remove that stick?? Studio One gives you FIVE INSTALLS with a username and password. Anyone ever get to a place with your laptop and realize you don’t have the dongle? Don’t need stupid situations like that to happen. SO, during this 30th anniversary sale I bought Cubase 10 Pro AGAIN for my laptop, fortunately at half price. And another Steinberg Key. Actually Sweetwater was out of stock so they sent a Vienna Key, same thing. Those things are mandatory but not always easy to find in stock. Ridiculous. I’m actually ticked at PreSonus that they haven’t gotten MIDI and multi core and Notion support on i9 processors going, I could be using what I paid for with 3 activations leftover for fun. Oh well. Steinberg wins, I bought their stuff twice to have convenience. Except that I still need to use the USB stick. Maybe instead I’ll listen to Flock of Seagulls in my Pontiac Fiero while wearing and a Swatch and an Izod shirt with the collar turned up. Oh, Steinberg, we’re not in that decade? Could have fooled me.
Signed,
Having Sarcastic Fun in Arizona (Hey, who broke my Sony Walkman???)
 

pk-1

New Member
I prefer the way licensing is handled by Microsoft with Office 365 and by Bitwig ...
Pretty much everybody does. I think it is safe to assume that companies running dongle-based protection schemes don't do it to harass their customers.

It protects the developer ...
That's the point - it doesn't.

There's currently only two protection schemes that actually work: Hardware-based (dongle, TPM, machine certificates, ...) and regular online license validation. As many music production systems, particularly in the professional world, are operated offline, the second option is not really viable for DAW/plugin/... companies.

I'm certainly not defending any vendors of any protection technology in particular, but for the developer behind it, there's really not that much choice. The only reasonable alternative is to build a certain amount of piracy into your business case, hoping that a sufficient number of customers pay for your product.
 

667

Senior Member
Actually I found an iLok support phone number pretty easily, called it, got a support tech in a few minutes of waiting, who helped me resolve the issue. Crazy, huh?
How did you find a phone number? I logged in with my ilok account and clicked 'support' it's sure not there in fact says "we do not provide phone support you must use our support page" which as I mentioned is garbage:
PACE'S garbage customer-hating support page said:
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer telephone support, but you may contact our support team by
using the Troubleshooting Guide below.
I also tried their site map, but I found no contact info there, and the 'support' link brings you back to their garbage troubleshooter.

I went to their main page looking for the 'contact us' link but-- surprise!-- none there. Not even an 'about us' which also sometimes hides contact info. "Privacy Policy / Terms of Use / Sitemap" on the footer, that's it.

If there's a phone number, they keep it very much hidden on purpose, so basically they are a customer-hating company and we should all hate them back. I certainly do.
 

pk-1

New Member
Antipiracy are like certain types of lawyers and special interest groups.
[...]
They invent problems that aren't even real so they have a reason to exist.
"[...] It is estimated that illegal copying of software costs the computer industry between 10 billion and 12 billion dollars every year — funds that would go a long way toward keeping the software industry healthy and innovative. Ultimately, software piracy hurts everyone. For one thing, developers lose money that they could use to improve products, support, and documentation for their customers. In some cases, they are forced to charge higher prices to recoup their development costs; as a result, honest customers have to pay more. And whenever developers cannot afford to invest in new ventures and markets, innovation and product availability is hindered."

(https://doi.org/10.1201/1086/43307.8.4.20000101/31078.5)
 

handz

Senior Member
Lack of trust.
Blocking one USB port on my computer ( imagine you are on laptop... sucks)
The fact that there are more standards needing different dongles (insane)
The fact these are still insanely expensive (how on earth they not provide you with one for free - the software that we are buying is not cheap)
 

Lcas

New Member
"[...] It is estimated that illegal copying of software costs the computer industry between 10 billion and 12 billion dollars every year — funds that would go a long way toward keeping the software industry healthy and innovative. Ultimately, software piracy hurts everyone. For one thing, developers lose money that they could use to improve products, support, and documentation for their customers. In some cases, they are forced to charge higher prices to recoup their development costs; as a result, honest customers have to pay more. And whenever developers cannot afford to invest in new ventures and markets, innovation and product availability is hindered."

(https://doi.org/10.1201/1086/43307.8.4.20000101/31078.5)
I know it looks like I'm saying piracy isn't real. My opinion is that it is a problem that can't be solved by drm.

People's conscience is the only real antipiracy. They either think it's stealing, or they don't. Or they don't even have a problem with stealing because it's an acceptable target, or theft just isn't a concern.

So spending more time and effort to implement drm, and then even more to actually enforce it, makes things worse because it is a total waste.

We are going to a place where there is nearly zero barrier to entry. It is getting easier and easier for some small group of people to create alternatives to DAW, samplers, and libraries. They wouldn't be as good but they would be good enough and would be free(ish) of whatever drm is implemented by AAA companies.

So it's like, even in some weird future where everything is some sort of biometric drm that actually works, a sane and acceptable alternative will be right around the corner.

Sorry for somewhat off-topic nonsense but I felt like it was an interesting thing to think about so why not
 

Geocranium

Active Member
For me, it's because it's just about the worst option convenience-wise. Right now I carry around my elicenser to and from work so that I can use Cubase at home and at work. Another piece of software I do the same with is Ozone and RX6, and iZotope makes this process 1000 times easier. All I have to do is log in and activate the product with my account and I'm good to go.

I wish every company and piece of software could work like this. Just let me activate it where ever and let me get to work.
 

pk-1

New Member
Right now I carry around my elicenser to and from work so that I can use Cubase at home and at work. Another piece of software I do the same with is Ozone and RX6, and iZotope makes this process 1000 times easier. All I have to do is log in and activate the product with my account and I'm good to go.

I wish every company and piece of software could work like this. Just let me activate it where ever and let me get to work.
IZotope products can be (have been) hacked, Cubase not. It's as simple as that.

Companies can loose revenue because their products are pirated, or because people won't buy it as long as they require a dongle. They need to the maths to see what's best for them. And I'm fairly sure they have their reasons.
 

Geoff Grace

Senior Member
I'm not sure what it is about music production software that requires a dongle when virtually every other type of software in existence doesn't. I've never been required to buy a dongle to use Word, Quicken, or countless other software apps from developers large and small. Somehow, the makers of these products manage to survive and even thrive.

Best,

Geoff
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
If piracy was the threat to sales that the drm providers want their customers to think it is, ALL of the DRM-free or essentially DRM-free (e.g. offline serial number check on install, but also allowing portable install and never ending trial phases like last I checked Reaper provides) products would have gone under and the respective companies folded. Spoiler: they haven't.

And wasn't there a dev who paid a handsome 5 figure sum for iLok protection and still got cracked close to release?

U-he employs a clever and ethical form of DRM that even manages to convert some pirates over to paying customers and he has the sales graphs to back it up. Don't have the link, but I think it was on KVR where the dev went into details, it was a fascinating read.

Treating 100% of piracy as 100% lost sales is incredibly naive. Piracy isn't done on a "I really need this right now and would buy it if I couldn't pirate it"-basis, much is just "collected" and some never even used/watched/listened to once, because it's so easy to acquire mountains of stuff that no one will ever have the time to dig through if you don't pay for anything. Also you're completely discounting the long term effect of lowered barrier to entry through piracy that gets people into hobbyist composing that otherwise would never have picked it up because they'd need to drop serious cash just to try it out, because there are no trials for most of the libraries. Sooner or later some of them will want to go legit and start buying the stuff.
When Napster was introduced, CD sales went up.
https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/21/technology/study-says-that-napster-increases-music-sales.html

"Because Napster users are music enthusiasts, it's logical to believe that they are more likely ... to increase their music spending in the future," said Jupiter analyst Aram Sinnreich. "But when we conducted our consumer survey, ... we still found that Napster usage is one of the strongest determinants of increased music buying."
Jupiter's Sinnreich acknowledged the importance of the traditional retailers. "But the consumer data we have proves that all online music activity drives more purchases, not just online spending, but traditional retailers, as well."

The biggest threat for a dev's revenue imho are second hand sales, because they actively take money out of their pockets that legit customers were willing to spend on the products. That's why so few allow them.
 

Lcas

New Member
I'm not sure what it is about music production software that requires a dongle when virtually every other type of software in existence doesn't. I've never been required to buy a dongle to use Word, Quicken, or countless other software apps from developers large and small. Somehow, the makers of these products manage to survive and even thrive.

Best,

Geoff
They got talked into buying the protection plan by the cashier
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
If you want to be entertained and you know professional network guys ask them to do a bit of research about ilok and tell you what they think. A real pro can turn vermilion in the face and invent new expletives when discussing ilok. But you know they are obsessed with computer security and hate vulnerabilities.
Are you saying it's not secure, or that the dongles disappear and break?

(Nice turns of phrase, by the way - I'm definitely stealing those sometime. :) )
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
I have 3 iLoks and 3 Steinberg keys. Never had any problems using them. My computers are only for music.
I have at least that many dongles, my computers are for everything (not just music), and I've never had any problems using them.

Well, the only issue I've had is that the new Play won't launch if you have an original iLok connected to your computer. But EW's tech support person figured that out.

Now, charging customers to insure the licenses stored on them, well, I'm repeating myself.
 

babylonwaves

Senior Member
Incorrect, it's very much an ilok issue confirmed by a Steinberg developer:
from what steinberg support states, it is an EW issue. it's down to then how they implement the CP. and as per your first post, what are the other plug-ins? sorry for blaming your computer, that was wrong. but i'm still interested in learning if this is one plug-in or many.
 

Geoff Grace

Senior Member
I had multiple problems during the '90s and '00s with dongles and other forms of copy protection. In fact, I estimate that I lost a week of my life to copy protection gone awry. Fortunately, I've had no problems in that regard for over a decade now.

I posted about more than one such experience back in 2001 in a forum hosted by the late Roger Nichols. If you're interested in reading about copy protection problems in the early days of software instruments, feel free to click on the link below:

Nightmare Experiences with "Copy Protection"

(My posts are under the screen name "soapbox" in that thread.)

I think I had pretty good reasons for hating dongles back then. Now, my main gripe is the extra expense of buying dongles, USB hubs, and dongle insurance.

Best,

Geoff
 

bigcat1969

Senior Member
I'm not tech enough to really understand Nick, plus it is too much fun to watch the reactions instead actually listening! Basically anything that has really low level access to your computer can do things like decide if your computer should be allowed to come on, spy on everything you are doing etc.. To be fair Microsoft also does all this as your OS and can refuse to run the OS after a hardware upgrade. There can be conflicts with MS updating and low level security thinking something is wrong and refusing to allow certain programs to run. Again I'm not really sure about the details, ILok is just allowed a ton of privileges which other programs would never ask for or receive. I had the software version on my machine in the past and running diagnostics it seemed like everything was slower and was running through an extra layer of 'stuff'. Since I do lots of things like gaming that I want to execute as fast as possible this was a bad thing for me and only a bootdisk reformat would remove the issue. So not for me, but many people have music only computers and careers which have vastly different requirements. Anyway I use Steam and Oculus VR (Facebook is watching you) so I'm not exactly in a position to cast too many stones on privacy and security issues.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Basically anything that has really low level access to your computer can do things like decide if your computer should be allowed to come on, spy on everything you are doing etc.
I don't know how iLok or eLicenser works, but does anyone really suspect PACE or Yamaha of spying on musicians? What could be more boring for them?

There are all kinds of unlikely-sounding things that it's totally rational to worry about, but this is really low on my list. Bear in mind that - unless something's changed - these companies only service music software. Windows, okay, not impossible. But not software protection dongles.

ILok is just allowed a ton of privileges which other programs would never ask for or receive
It checks whether your iLok-protected programs are authorized when you launch them!

had the software version on my machine in the past and running diagnostics it seemed like everything was slower and was running through an extra layer of 'stuff'.
Not a violation of the laws of physics, but close. I'm highly skeptical. Even if PACE checks itself periodically, it's very unlikely to slow down your system.
 
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